The University College Junior Common Room. FILE PHOTO: SHIJIE ZHOU/THE VARSITY

A vote in a University College Literary & Athletic Society’s (UC Lit) referendum for a building revitalization levy has passed.

The referendum was held online on March 10, along with the UC Lit executive elections. There were 250 votes in favour, 88 against, and 21 abstentions. 

The levy will be $12.50 for full-time students and $5 for part-time students, bringing the total UC student fees to $30.03 and $13.15 for full-time and part-time students, respectively. The money will go towards various improvements to the University College building, including: renovations to the Junior Common Room (JCR); a new student lounge and café in room 376; improvements to the quadrangle; and an expansion of the UC Success Centre. 

UC Lit president Amanda Stojcevski called the referendum a “huge achievement.”

“Many students involved in our campaign contributed a lot of time and effort into informing students about the referendum, and we are so proud to see that it paid off,” she said. “I am very excited to see the vibrant UC Community expand into the beautiful building we have, and I hope it makes future students even more proud to be a part of UC.”

This is not the first time the referendum was introduced. In 2014, it failed to reach a two-thirds majority by a margin of six votes. 

“It was quite discouraging to have the previous referendum fail by about six votes a couple years ago during my first year at university and a lot of students felt the same,” said UC Lit vice president and president-elect for the 2016–2017 year Ramsey Andary. “But it is thanks to those students who pushed for informing the community on the importance of revitalizing their common spaces that we were able to be successful this time around.”

Some details of the revitalization projects have yet to be finalized, and the UC Lit plans to hold a JCR assessment meeting on March 17 to receive input from students. The UC Lit also plans to discuss the renovations to the quadrangle with the Landmark Committee.

The incoming UC Lit executive will need to decide whether to operate the café in UC 376 themselves or have UC Food Services run it. The UC Lit has the right of first refusal to operate the café and currently operates Diabolos’, a student-run coffee shop located in the JCR.

Diabolos’, which had previously experienced financial and operational challenges, reopened in January 2015 after remaining closed for several months.

Nevertheless, Andary supports making the café student-run.

“Although we found this year that opening Diabolos’ Coffee Bar in its new form was a great challenge, we definitely knew it was worth the hassle. We learned and made note of every little detail it takes to set up a functioning student-run café, and I do believe we can use that experience in opening a ‘second branch’ in UC 376,” Andary told The Varsity.

“To have this café run by the UC Lit means we can open up more opportunities for students in our community to get involved with this project and encourage students to check out the revitalized spaces that will be opened up in the upper floors of UC,” said Andary.

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